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Squalane Skin Benefits: Pros Share Why This Ingredient Works Well for Women Over 50

Plus, the squalane-infused products that will work for you

Skincare ingredients often fall into one of two camps. You have your long-time, tried-and-true staples, think retinol and hyaluronic acid. Then, you have trendy, buzzy newbies that seemingly pop up everywhere overnight, such as polyhydroxy acids and exosomes. Squalane falls somewhere in the middle. It’s certainly not a new ingredient by any means, but it is having a major moment, suddenly a key player in moisturizers, serums and more. And there’s good reason why: Squalane skin benefits are plentiful and legitimate. We tapped top experts to explain exactly what the ingredient is and what it can do — plus, they share the best ways to work it into your routine, including exactly which products to use.

What is squalane?

“Squalane is a moisturizing ingredient commonly used in skincare products, that’s typically derived from olives or sugarcane,” explains Angela Lamb, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. But here’s where things can get a little convoluted with the ingredient. Squalane is a more lightweight, more stable version of squalene, says Ron Robinson, cosmetic chemist and founder of BeautyStat. Squalene (with an e) is a lipid that’s naturally found in our skin and it helps keep it hydrated and maintains the skin barrier, he explains.

So, why don’t brands just use straight up squalene? Some do, but the problem is that it can both be a bit too greasy for oily or acne-prone skin and it also has a short shelf life, he adds. Squalene can easily break down when exposed to air or light, which is why it’s much more stable counterpart, squalane, is preferred for skincare formulations, notes Dr. Lamb.

For more on squalane, watch the below video from the Doctorly YouTube channel.

Related: Skincare’s Best-Kept Secret For Hydrated, Plump + Glowing Skin Instantly? Glycerin

What are the squalane skin benefits?

Squalane drops and bottle
IKvyatkovskaya/ Getty

The top squalane skin benefits as mentioned above revolve around hydration. “Squalane is biomemtic, meaning it functions similarly to our natural sebum and is very compatible with the skin,” explains Geeta Yadav, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Toronto, Canada and the founder of FACET Dermatology. Like our sebum, it helps support the skin barrier, preventing moisture from escaping and reducing our susceptibility to irritants, all while leaving skin softer and smoother in the process.

This is especially important as we get older. Our natural levels of squalene decrease as we age, so using topical squalane via skincare products can be an effective solution, says Robinson. Not to mention that age-related hormonal changes can generally leave skin drier and more susceptible to irritation. So applying squalane can help counteract both of these issues.

Related: MDs Share the Best Menopause Skin Care Routine + Products for Women Over 50

What skin types does squalane work best for?

In a few words, all of them. All of the experts we spoke with underscore the fact that this ingredient is a great pick for anyone and everyone — yes, even those with oily and acne-prone skin included. “Some people with that type of skin may be hesitant to use it, but adding in a sebum-like ingredient can actually help rebalance the skin and help it self-regulate,” explains Dr. Yadav. Many ingredients used to target excess oil can end up over-drying the skin, causing it, ironically to then produce too much oil. But squalane can keep everything in check.

Plus, unlike many traditional skincare oils, squalane actually has a very lightweight feel and is non-comedogenic, meaning there’s no need to stress about it clogging pores, adds Dr. Lamb. And, given how it helps bolster the skin barrier, it’s also a standout choice for those with sensitive skin, says Robinson.

How to incorporate squalane into your skin care routine

Squalane moisturizing cream
JGI/Jamie Grill/ Getty

There’s certainly no shortage of squalane skincare products to choose from (more on some standouts in a moment), including cleansers, moisturizers and more. That being said, if you want to get the most bang for your buck, Dr. Lamb advises seeking it out in serums or moisturizers. That’s because you’ll reap its moisturizing benefits most when it’s left on the skin, she points out. She adds that you can apply it onto damp skin, as it will trap that extra moisture.

You can also layer squalane products among other ones, but both she and Dr. Yadav note that it’s often a good idea to use a squalane product as the final step in your routine in order to help really lock in moisture. It also bears mentioning that, if you don’t want to incorporate a whole new products into your lineup, it’s easy to find pure squalane, which can then be mixed into your existing favorite formulas, Dr. Lamb says.

Related: Skin Flooding: The Viral Trend Dermatologists Swear By + How to Get the Best Results

The best squalane skin care products

Sold on this ingredient after learning the squalane skin benefits? Our pros love these eight products.

Best pure squalane

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane, a product that helps you get the squalane skin benefits
The Ordinary/Sephora

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

Up the moisturizing ante of any of your existing products by adding a few drops of this option from The Ordinary, which is straight-up squalane. It can be added to your favorite moisturizer, serum or even foundation, says Dr. Lamb, of one of her recommendations. Bonus points for the affordable price tag!

Best squalane product for oily skin

Dieux Air Angel Hydrating Collagen & Peptide Hydrating Gel Cream

Dieux Air Angel Hydrating Collagen & Peptide Hydrating Gel Cream

This is a top pick for Robinson, who says that the squalane in the formula makes it perfect for hydrating oily skin types, without leaving behind unwanted shine or a greasy residue. And the cream has a lightweight, jelly-esque texture that feels lovely on skin.

Best squalane moisturizer

Alpyn Beauty Melt Moisturizer with Bakuchiol and Squalane, a product that helps you get the squalane skin benefits
Alpyn Beauty

Alpyn Beauty Melt Moisturizer with Bakuchiol and Squalane

Dr. Yadav says this is a great option for anyone looking for a moisturizer that has some more active ingredients, but is still gentle on the skin. “In addition to squalane, this has ceramides, another lipid needed for healthy skin barrier function,” she says. “It also contains bakuchiol, which studies have shown offers the same anti-aging benefits as retinol without the irritating side effects.” Yes, please!

Best squalane product for sensitive skin

Rhode Barrier Restore Cream

Rhode Barrier Restore Cream

Squalane’s moisturizing and protective properties make it a winning pick for those with sensitive skin — and Robinson says this cream is especially good for that subset. As the name suggests, it nourishes and restores the skin barrier, using squalane, niacinamide and shea butter, and it’s fragrance-free, too.

Best budget squalane product

BYOMA Hydrating Serum, a product that helps you get the squalane skin benefits

BYOMA Hydrating Serum

Pick up this serum, one of Dr. Yadav’s recommendations, during your next Target run. She says it’s a great affordable option that can be layered underneath a moisturizer with squalane if you feel like your skin is perpetually dry.

Best squalane serum

Biossance Squalane Copper Peptide Rapid Plumping Serum

Biossance Squalane Copper Peptide Rapid Plumping Serum

“A combination of squalane and copper peptides make for a wonderful mix of hydrating properties and anti-aging benefits,” says Dr. Lamb of one of her favorites. Hyaluronic acid and polyglutamic acid also round out the list of hydrating ingredients.

Best squalane mask

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, a product that helps you get the squalane skin benefits

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask

Dr. Lamb advises using this squalane-containing mask at bedtime, especially during the cold winter months, to give your skin an extra moisture boost. You can apply it nightly, in lieu of a night cream or as a leave-on overnight mask anytime your complexion needs a little extra TLC.

Best squalane-infused makeup

Summer Fridays Skin Tint
Summer Fridays/Sephora

Summer Fridays Skin Tint

This multi-tasking, skincare-infused makeup hydrates thanks to — you guessed it, squalane — but also imparts a bit of sheer coverage. “I love that it gives the skin a healthy, tinted glow,” says Robinson of his pick. Also nice: It comes in 12 different shades.

For more skincare tips:

Skin Lightening vs. Skin Brightening: Which Approach Is Right for You?

Say Goodbye to Redness, Bumps & Irritation — Dermatologists Reveal How to Get Rid of Rosacea

The Best Eye Creams That Fight Puffiness, Dark Circles, Wrinkles and More to Help You Look Younger

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